Wednesday, June 4, 2008

These are a few of my favorite things... (Joan Crawford edition)

Dearest blog, I haven’t forgotten thee – I’m just kind of in movie limbo at the moment because I haven’t had an entire day set aside to catch up on chick flicks. Hopefully I’ll remedy that this weekend. Until then, I feel like making a guide to some of the filmic feminist icons, films, and such that I absolutely love.

Let’s start with Joan Crawford.

There are three women in the history of cinema whose work I continually turn to for both inspiration and identification and they are Bette Davis, Katharine Hepburn, and Joan Crawford. These ladies’ don’t really need an introduction because their lives and work have been so well documented by other fans and writers, but I love ‘em passionately and generally watch one of their films per week. Without further ado:

"Damn it . . . Don't you dare ask God to help me." - Joan Crawford's last words

Joan Crawford (1906-1977): Born Lucille LeSueur in San Antonio, Texas, Ms. Crawford came to Hollywood in the mid 1920’s to be an actress in silent pictures. She had a career ranging chronologically from 1925 until 1972. Though her forty-seven year livelihood is the shortest of these three particular women, her grasp on the overall history of cinema is the strongest because it started significantly earlier (in show business years, that is) – she worked through the silent years, the early talkies, the golden age, and teetered off around the rise of the independents. She is probably best remembered for her role as Mildred in Mildred Pierce, the only film for which she won a Best Actress Oscar in 1945, because it encompasses her sizzling persona so accurately in the mainstream world. She generally acted in women’s pictures that put her character in a position of change – a change that mostly revolves around her trying to get out of a relationship with a bad man and move on with her life. She has fury to burn. Watching Joan Crawford get mad makes me feel like I just told someone off, which is kind of a combination feeling between a wonderful adrenaline rush and giddy enthusiasm. I’ve only seen about twenty of her films (basically all of the ones released on DVD), but I love her in nearly all of them. My favorite Crawford flick is The Damned Don’t Cry (195), closely followed by A Woman’s Face (1941), Harriet Craig (1950), and Johnny Guitar (1954). It’s certainly a shame that all of the hard work and dedication Ms. Crawford paid to cinema has all but been thrown back in her face because her…darling…daughter, Christina, chose to write an exaggerated tale of child abuse entitled Mommie Dearest. Crawford was a severe hypochondriac (for example, she washed her hands every ten minutes), but she loved her four children and her youngest daughter, Cathy (her twin, Cindy, died last year) has recently gone on the record to say that Christina fabricated a lot the material in Mommie Dearest. Alas, that’s all she’s known for in pop culture these days and I wish people could get over it and see what a great asset she is/was for us.

* I plan on doing two more posts - one on Ms. Hepburn and the other on Ms. Davis within the next few days. So, stay tuned!


Lisa Draski said...

Right on, Sara. No kidding, it's such a disgrace that all she's known for is either a fashion icon or a child abuser. She should be remembered for her strength and skill.

Lisa Draski said...

Oh, and that second picture is SO stunning.

Alexa said...

Thanks! That post was the highlight of my day.

Lisa Draski said...

I love your three choice ladies, but Kate has been and always will be my favorite. They're all great, though. Did you like my classic ladies' collages?

melissa said...

Just something to consider. I love Joan's Crawford's work as a actress her steely determiation to make something of herself is admirable and inspiring.
But her reputation as a mother might have been deserved.

You cannot say it was exaggerated unless you know the Crawford family personally.
Joan was known to suffer from NPD which is a nightmare for children to suffer through.
Cristina's account has NPD written all through and mirrors the abuse that just about all children of parents with that disorder suffer through.
When I read her account it was like reading my own story. Countless others have felt the same.
It is possible that she very well was a horrible mother yet a brilliant and amazing actress.

bonnie_bustamante said...

I too think Joan Crawford was a beautiful woman and brilliant actress. I absolutely love "Mildred Pierce". However, it is obvious that something abusive happened in the Crawford family. If the short bios of her children are correct, there appears to be a level of dysfunction that is above "the norm". It appears her children have suffered from anger issues, even as children. Homelessness, divorce, multiple marriages, estrangement from children and siblings all show behavior that very well may be the fault of childhood abuse. Christina may have exaggerated some episodes to sell more books, but I don't believe it is all lies.